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Gard Guidance Masters


On taking over command, the Master should check all the vessel’s trading documents as to

  • validity
  • expiry dates
  • whether renewals or extensions are required to cover the forthcoming voyage
  • whether they are complete.

    Trading documents include

  • the vessel’s registration documents issued by the flag State administration
  • the statutory certificates issued by a classification society in their capacity as a Recognised Organisation.

    For crew documents please see section 2.3.2 Crew documents.

    A list of the documents to be carried on board can be found in Annex 1. It is necessary for the Master and his/her officers to closely co-operate with the vessel’s Chief Engineer, who may keep documents in respect of the vessel’s engine and other installations that are not kept in the vessel’s office.

    If the vessel does not have valid trading documents

  • the vessel may not be allowed to leave the port
  • delays and difficulties may arise at the next port of call
  • the vessel may not be allowed to enter the port
  • fines may be imposed in some jurisdictions if certificates are invalid
  • the Master may be held personally liable and be subject to criminal prosecution
  • the insurance cover may be prejudiced.

    Should the Company need to defend claims and/or provide evidence to third parties or the authorities to prove compliance with the SMS, full and proper records of ship borne activities will be essential, including test or inspection certificates, repair accounts, routine inspections etc.